Open Access

Genomics in Industry: issues of a bio-based economy

Genomics, Society and Policy20106:26

DOI: 10.1186/1746-5354-6-2-26

Published: 15 August 2010

Abstract

What value does genomics hold for industry? Ten years after the White House Press conference where the human genome sequence was first presented, we ask in which ways and to what extent the developments in genomics have been integrated into industry. This enables us to assess whether this integration has been as successful as expected, but also which unexpected developments in genomics advances have triggered additional benefits for industry. Genomics has contributed to the beginning of a global transition to a bio-based economy, but there have been and there still are hurdles to be cleared. The hurdles are not merely of a technological nature, since the objectives are a complex between economic progress, environmental and global climate concerns, and energy security. Therefore, they are at the same time technological, societal and environmental in nature. These categorisations fall short of articulating the many issues that arise, such as economic development (for emerging economies), public opinion formation and scientific and technological progress. We argue that to make this transition happen, industrialists, policy makers and the wider public have to be prepared to be more actively involved in the debate, weighing the pros and cons and taking responsibility in creating the desired sustainable world.

This paper will examine the advances of genomics in the industrial context, the role of these advances in current attempts to find sustainable solutions to a variety of problems, the enthusiasm with which they have been picked up, the implications for industrial innovation and the accompanying discussion about possible consequential social and ethical issues. It will also sketch out the nature of this ongoing establishment of a bio-based economy, the parties that are currently at the negotiation table, and whether the current situation has an impact on the way societal debates emerge.